Outraged

The Australian Government has spent a lot of money on campaigns to persuade smokers to give up.  Quit smoking advertising and a quit smoking helpline are just two of the things they have done to try and wean us off smoking in the past.  The latest expense they have committed to is subsidising the cost of nicotine patches to make them more affordable if people want to use them to help them quit.

As far as I am concerned this is nothing but evidence of how much money they are raking in from people who refuse to quit smoking despite frequent price increases.  They are making so much money from cigarette taxes they have to try and prove greed is not the only reason they hit smokers every time they want a few more dollars.

The Australian Government has also hammered cigarette companies with law after law supposedly designed to reduce their ability to get new addicts or keep old ones.  Our cigarette packages now carry graphic warnings, labels have been altered to stop us from being able to easily tell full strength cigarettes from mild or low tar ones.  The latest attack on the cigarette companies is a new law to force them to use plain packaging to make their products less visually appealing to consumers.

None of these efforts has had any effect on stubborn smokers like myself as our addiction goes beyond packaging.  New smokers continue to take up the habit so it clearly doesn’t make much difference, if any, there either but the Government can claim to be trying – right?

The heavy handed approach doesn’t stop at the cigarette companies, however, there are laws that prevent cigarette advertising and retailers cannot even display cigarettes to let people know they sell them any more.

Smokers can no longer smoke in any public building including restaurants or pubs.  It is illegal to even smoke near the doorways of a public building now.  We can’t smoke on any kind of public transport and the latest talk is about making it illegal to smoke in some public outdoor areas such as malls or other public gathering places.

What usually happens is a State Government trials the laws and, if there is not too much backlash or lost revenue, the Australian Government adopts the law and makes it applicable Australia wide.

I’ve never objected to any of these attempts to get people to quit because I actually do hope they will work to make people quit or prevent them from starting.

Once again, however, none of these things has had any effect at all on the hard-core smokers like me.  All they are is a nuisance that, for the sake of other people, we are prepared to tolerate.

Last, but by no means least, the Australian Government has regularly added taxes to cigarettes making the cost of smoking soar to ridiculous levels.

They claim these taxes are not about them being greedy.  They say they are gouging money out of smokers for their own good.  They say they are raising the taxes on cigarettes purely to convince us all to quit smoking.

I don’t believe that.

I think they know a certain percentage of smokers will quit if they put the price up but they also know there are hard-core smokers who will not quit no matter what they do or what they charge us.  I think they calculate how much money they will lose from those who do quit and put the price up high enough to force remaining smokers to cover the cost of the lost ones.

Anyone who takes up the habit after the price rise becomes bonus revenue for a while until another price rise persuades them to quit or reveals them as having joined the hard-core group.  I don’t believe they have lost any money at all from their campaign to force people to quit and I suspect, if anything, their revenue from the smoking tax is actually more now than when they began their stop smoking campaigns.

I am a hard-core smoker and a stubborn one as well.  I will not be dictated to or forced to quit and I think they know nothing they do will stop people like me and they have come to rely on, and are taking advantage of, that.

I smoke a packet of 50 cigarettes every day and at least twenty dollars of the cost of each packet goes to the government in cigarette tax.

According to my calculations I pay more money in cigarette taxes than I do in income tax and they don’t have to refund a single cent of my cigarette tax at the end of the year!

They get at least twenty dollars EVERY DAY from me and I don’t think they want to lose it!

Twenty dollars a day will cover the cost of any cigarette related health problems I may develop in the future with, I am certain, enough left over to help fund anti-smoking campaigns, contribute to the cost of non-smokers health problems, and maybe even shout the Prime Minister a bottle of wine or two at Christmas as well!

They claim they want us to quit but I have always believed they don’t want smokers like me to quit and now it seems I am right about that!

A new product is available that would allow me to puff away and get my hit of nicotine without having to consume tar, carbon monoxide, arsenic or any of the other poisons that are contained in tobacco cigarettes and exhale nothing more harmful to those around me than water vapour.

The product is an electronic cigarette.  It looks a bit like an ordinary cigarette and you smoke it like a regular cigarette but you are not burning anything so there is no smoke to inhale.  The product substitutes water vapour so your nicotine hit is inhaled with water vapour and you exhale the water vapour afterwards.

The Australian government has made the sale of nicotine cartridges for this product illegal.  They say nicotine is dangerous and that is why they are banning it.

I’m confused.

They are promoting and subsidising nicotine patches and they are raking in a veritable fortune from the sale of tobacco which contains far more lethal substances than just nicotine but they are banning this?

Why?

I think it is because this substitute, unlike nicotine patches, stands a much better chance of weaning addicts off cigarettes and they don’t want to lose the revenue they get from hard-core smokers like me.

When I broke my ankle a couple of years ago I was forced to quit smoking for several days as I was confined to my hospital bed while doctors waited for the swelling in my ankle to go down before they operated.

They gave me nicotine patches and the physical craving was not a problem but the minute I was given permission to get out of bed and move around I went outside and lit up.

The slow, continuous, release of nicotine into my bloodstream through the skin of my arm that I got from the nicotine patch didn’t give me anything like the same satisfaction that I get when it is absorbed through the more delicate membranes of the mouth and throat.

It isn’t just nicotine I am addicted to.  It is the whole process of having something in my hand, putting something in my mouth, and the quick hit I get when the nicotine strikes the mucous membranes of my mouth and throat.

I have a strong suspicion that I am also addicted to the carbon monoxide in cigarettes.  In years gone by I have had times when I could not get hold of any cigarettes and, during those times, I found I developed a craving for the smell of exhaust fumes.  I used to stand behind cars and inhale and, as far as I know, the only thing I could have been getting from doing that was carbon monoxide.

I don’t want to give up smoking even though the cost of smoking has gotten way out of hand and I am tired of getting to the top of a flight of stairs and having to sit down to catch my breath.

I’m ready to give up the high financial cost, the carbon monoxide and all the other poisons, and the health costs but I am not ready to quit smoking altogether.  I still want to hold a smoke and put it in my mouth.  I still want the quick hit of nicotine when I inhale and the electronic cigarette is something I would be willing to switch to if I could get my nicotine hit that way.

According to media reports, when the electronic cigarette was released in Australia a lot of people switched and it was having a lot of success in helping hard-core smokers quit smoking tobacco.

I suspect it was too effective and the revenue from cigarette tax went down so much the government was alarmed and banned the product from selling the nicotine cartridges so those people would be forced back onto cigarettes.

I’m honest and law abiding at heart.  I’ve thought, often, about switching to illegal tobacco but I don’t want to mess with people who make a living by breaking the law.

I don’t want to find loopholes and mess around trying to get the cartridges that contain nicotine for this product from overseas.  I want it to be as easy to get, and use, as my packet of cigarettes is.

If I were a different type of drug addict the government would be paying for my methadone in an attempt to wean me off the hard stuff so why are they banning something I honestly believe might help me get off cigarettes for good?

They say they banned it because the product could prove harmful to me if I overdose or it might leak nicotine and harm any kids I have around me.

Rubbish!

Tobacco is far more harmful to me!  I already overdose on cigarettes when I am in certain frames of mind and I always feel sick if I smoke too many.  I am sure I will feel sick if I overdose on the nicotine in this product too and there is nothing like nausea to make you stop doing what you are doing.

As for the danger to children.  Any child who spends any time with someone who smokes will have gotten their hands on a packet of their smokes at some point.  They always manage to chew up at least one cigarette before being caught so they chew, AND SWALLOW, arsenic and other poisons along with the nicotine when that happens which seems a whole lot worse, to my mind, than “leaked” nicotine alone.

Even if these claims are valid, and I concede they might be, why ban the product?  Why not just insist the manufacturers make it safer?  Add some chemical that will prevent people from overdosing like they do with natural gas and insist the product be made child proof like they have done with so many other potential dangers.

I can see no other reason for banning this product than greed!

I believe the Australian government has banned this product because they fear it will actually help hard-core smokers like me to quit smoking and they don’t really want us to quit.  I’m convinced they view smokers like me as a reliable source of ready cash that they can suck dry without fear of objections and they don’t want to lose us!

This product came onto the market quietly.  Before I even got to hear about it, let alone try it, the Australian Government had noticed it and banned it from selling the nicotine cartridges.  What made them notice the product so fast?  What made them act so fast to ban it when, like all governments, they are usually so slow to even notice, let alone react, to new products that might be dangerous to consumers?

I think they noticed it because the bulk of their smoking tax comes from a small minority of hard-core smokers, like me, and if even a small handful of those particular smokers quit smoking their revenue is slashed so much they must take instant action to get them back and stop others from being lost the same way.

I think this product actually did cost them some of their hard-core smokers despite them taking swift action to regain them.  I think some of them were willing to take advantage of the loophole and are ordering their nicotine cartridges from overseas.  I think others discovered it is the physical act of smoking they are addicted to and they have found they are OK with only having water vapour to smoke.

I think the loss of just a few hard-core smokers is why the cigarette tax went up recently.  To regain the money they lost when they lost those few smokers the Australian Government put the cost of my cigarettes up by FIVE DOLLARS A PACKET!

I think they are determined to make sure they don’t lose me the same way.

Why else would they ban the only quit smoking product I have ever seen that has actually had the ability to even tempt me to try quitting?

(If you can use this blog entry in whole, or in part, to put pressure on the Australian Government to lift this ban you may use it without any fear of copyright infringement!)

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